The Joy of Making a Difference

A college professor I had years ago pointed out that there was no such thing as pure altruism or purely altruistic folks.

“What about Mother Theresa?” I asked.

“She enjoyed the appreciation and adulation of millions for her sacrificial behavior, not to mention the comfort of feeling she was doing God’s work,” he replied.

I’m never going to be Mother Theresa, but my professor was right. It’s a cliché to say, “When you give, you get,” but it’s so darned true. The moments when I’ve felt I made a positive difference in someone else’s life lift me sky high.               

And that even includes our newly adopted cat. Lacy Lou was returned to the Humane Society by her previous family which had a menagerie of pets and children. Lacy couldn’t get along with the kids or other animals, the previous owner said. In fact, she was so unhappy and anxious that she’d bitten off most of the fur on her back side. She looked like half of her was on chemo.

From the moment she reached her paw out through the bars of her cage to my husband, we felt a connection to her. Plus, we figured we were a good bet for a more calming environment, since we had no other pets, and our children were grown.

It’s now been several weeks since we took her home. We’ve gotten a kick out of learning her habits, like parking herself in a patch of sunlight for a cozy nap, or climbing into our laps and purring loudly while we pet her.

But you know what especially makes us feel good? Her fur is growing back! She looks like a different kitty than the scraggly creature we met at the Humane Society. We know we’ve made a difference in her life, as she has in ours.

And it feels so darned good.

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